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Sustainable Tourism: An Interview with Mr Rajan Bahadur, CEO of THSC

Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) is a Not-For-Profit Organization. Formed as part of the Skill India mission and under the umbrella of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

Education Post15 December 2023 04:40

Sustainable Tourism: An Interview with Mr Rajan Bahadur, CEO of THSC

Emphasizing the importance of sustainable tourism and educating people about taking responsibility of the tourist places, Mr. Rajan Bahadur, CEO – Tourism & Hospitality Skill Council Of India (THSC) shares the organization’s perspectives. In a conversation with Education Post’s Tanay Kumar, he advocates of simplifying licensing procedures, reducing taxes on tourism businesses for all governments and of using renewable energy for companies in this sector.

Please enlighten us about the Tourism and Hospitality Council and its modus operandi.

Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) is a Not-For-Profit Organization. Formed as part of the Skill India mission and under the umbrella of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It has an independent Governing Board, comprising representation from the government, industry partners/ industry associations. By encouraging the development of skills in the hospitality and tourism sectors, millions of people in India would be able to find respectable jobs serving clients and other stakeholders.

The body represents five sub-sectors – Hotels, Restaurants, Facility Management, Tour & Travel and Cruise Liners.

THSC has partnered with many renowned organizations in this industry, e.g. Oberoi Hotels, Marriot, Devyani International limited and many more. How is it bridging the gap between academics of tourism and its industry?

We are doing by partnerships with renowned organizations. These partnerships allow THSC to:

  • Provide industry insights to academic institutions: THSC’s industry partners share their knowledge and expertise with academic institutions, helping to ensure that tourism curricula are aligned with the needs of the industry
  • Offer internships and placements to students: THSC’s industry partners offer internships and placements to students, giving them valuable hands-on experience in the tourism industry.
  • Industry Expert Involvement: These organizations may invite industry experts to participate in academic forums, conferences, and guest lectures. This helps students and faculty stay updated on industry trends and best practices.
  • Promote industry best practices: The THSC and its industry partners work together to promote industry best practices, such as responsible tourism practices.
  • Networking Events: Hosting networking events such as training partners meet, industry partners meet, job fairs, etc. bring together students, academics, and industry professionals. This facilitates networking, mentorship, and job placement opportunities for students.
  • Advocacy for Curriculum Development: Industry partners advocate for Qualification packs (curriculum) development that aligns with the current needs of the tourism and hospitality sector. They provide input on the skills and knowledge that are most relevant for graduates entering the industry.

How can the academic institutions offering tourism or hospitality management take the help of THSC? And, can those colleges also get an affiliation of THSC that are already affiliated with any university or bodies like UGC?

THSC offers several ways for academic institutions to take its help, including:

  • Affiliation: THSC offers affiliation to vocational training partners (VTPs) that wish to deliver tourism and hospitality training based on National Occupational Standards (NOS). This affiliation provides several benefits to VTPs, including access to THSC’s resources and support, as well as recognition from the industry.
  • Qualification Packs: THSC develops Qualification Packs (QPs) for tourism and hospitality training, which are aligned with the National Occupation Standards (NOS). QPs provide a framework for VTPs to develop their training programs and ensure that they are meeting the needs of the industry.
  • Training and Assessment: THSC offers a range of training and assessment services for VTPs, including training for trainers, assessors, and industry experts. THSC also offers assessment services for VTPs to ensure that their students are meeting the required standards.
  • Industry Placements: THSC works with industry partners to provide placement opportunities for students of tourism and hospitality VTPs. This helps students to gain practical experience and make connections in the industry.

You hold substantial experience of working with range of top-class hotel chains. What are your thoughts on the colleges offering hotel management and the academic synchronization with the hotel sector?

Overall, I think the quality of hotel management education in India has improved significantly in recent years. There are now a number of well-respected colleges that offer comprehensive and industry-relevant programs. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of academic synchronization with the hotel sector.

Some of the key areas where I think there is room for improvement include:

  • Curriculum: Some hotel management programs still focus too heavily on theoretical concepts and not enough on practical skills. This is a concern, as employers are increasingly looking for graduates who can hit the ground running and make a real contribution to their teams.
  • Industry engagement: More hotel management colleges need to develop stronger relationships with the industry. This could involve inviting industry experts to teach on campus, offering internships and placements, and conducting joint research projects.
  • Upskilling and reskilling: The hotel sector is constantly evolving, and it is important for hotel management colleges to keep up with the latest trends and developments. This means offering upskilling and reskilling programs to their students and alumni.

Reports claimed that tourism is among one of the reasons behind natural disasters of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but it is also one of the key source of revenue. What are your thoughts about this predicament?

The relationship between tourism and its impact on the environment in regions like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand is a complex and multifaceted issue. It’s important to recognize that tourism can have both positive and negative effects on the environment, and addressing these impacts requires careful planning and sustainable practices. Here are some thoughts on this predicament:

  • Focus on low-impact tourism: This could involve promoting ecotourism, adventure tourism, and cultural tourism. These types of tourism are less damaging to the environment than mass tourism.
  • Invest in sustainable infrastructure: This could involve building roads and hotels that are less likely to damage the slopes. It could also involve developing waste treatment facilities that are more environmentally friendly.
  • Educate tourists about the importance of sustainability: This could involve providing information about the fragile Himalayan ecosystem and the steps that tourists can take to reduce their impact.

It is important to note that responsible tourism can contribute to the ecosystem by planning and practicing carefully.

India can generate a plethora of revenue by the tourism sector. So, all of us, in an integrated way, i.e., governments, colleges, companies in this sector, what should we all do to have a better tourism ecosystem?

Yes, building a better tourism ecosystem in India requires coordinated efforts from various stakeholders, including government bodies, colleges and educational institutions, tourism companies, local communities, and tourists themselves. Here are key actions that can help create a sustainable and thriving tourism sector in India:

 Governments: 
  • Invest in infrastructure: This includes improving roads, airports, and other transportation links, as well as developing new tourist attractions and facilities.
  • Promote sustainable tourism by developing ecotourism plans, investing in renewable energy, and educating tourists about the importance of protecting the environment.
  • Protect cultural heritage: Developing conservation plans for historic monuments and artifacts and supporting traditional arts and crafts.
  • Create a supportive regulatory environment: For example – simplifying licensing procedures, reducing taxes on tourism businesses, and providing financial assistance to small businesses.
 Colleges: 
  • Develop tourism and hospitality programs that are aligned with the needs of the industry. This includes providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the tourism sector.
  • Educate the public about the benefits of tourism and the importance of sustainable tourism practices.
 Companies in the tourism sector: 
  • Invest in sustainable practices: This could involve using renewable energy, reducing waste, and conserving water.
  • Provide training to employees on sustainable tourism practices.
  • Educate tourists about the importance of sustainability and how they can reduce their impact.
  • Support local communities and businesses.

With an integrated approach Governments, colleges, and companies in the tourism sector can work together to promote India as a sustainable tourism destination. This could involve developing marketing campaigns and partnerships with international tourism organizations.

Any travel incident of your life and the lesson from that moment?

I can share a travel incident when traveling overseas I lost my wallet with all my credit cards and the lessons that can be drawn from it:

  • Always be vigilant and take safety precautions when traveling, especially in unfamiliar or crowded places. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. Use anti-theft bags or pouches for important items like passports, wallets, and smartphones.
  • Make photocopies or digital scans of important documents such as your passport, ID, and travel insurance. Store these copies separately from the originals, so you have a backup if your documents are lost or stolen.
  • Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers theft, loss of belongings, and medical emergencies. Familiarize yourself with the coverage and how to make claims.
  • Have access to local emergency contact numbers, including the nearest embassy or consulate. They can help if you lose important documents or face other emergencies.
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